How can cavities lead to a tooth abscess?

Cavities can lead to infection, which can result in abscessed teeth. These problems can let bacteria enter the pulp (the soft tissue of a tooth that contains nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue) and can lead to pulp death. Catching a cavity early and having it filled can prevent the problem from worsening.
Left untreated, a cavity may lead to a tooth abscess, a collection of pus caused by a bacterial infection of the tooth. Damage to the tooth enamel, typically caused by a cavity, allows bacteria to penetrate into the center of the tooth, causing an infection. As the infection spreads, the body sends white blood cells to fight off the infection. These white blood cells, along with the bacteria and dead blood cells form pus. Pressure from the infection causes swelling, and forces the pus into an abscess at the infected tooth's root.

Continue Learning about Cavities

What types of food should someone with cavities avoid?
American Dental AssociationAmerican Dental Association
If you have cavities it's a good idea to avoid very hard and very sticky foods. These foods can get ...
More Answers
Are cavities serious?
American Dental AssociationAmerican Dental Association
Cavities can become serious if they are not treated property or treated early. A filling helps preve...
More Answers
Are cavities contagious?
Megan  Chin, DDSMegan Chin, DDS
Cavity-causing bacteria can be transferred easily between people, in a process called vertical trans...
More Answers
What are the benefits of fluoride for people with diabetes?
Fluoride decreases the risk of cavities. Diabetics tend to have more dental cavities, a greater risk...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.